Juanita collapses against Liberty, faces loser-out game Saturday | Prep girls basketball

Juanita High School basketball player Jaissa Nunn powers to the hoop for a basket during a loss to Liberty Thursday. - Josh Suman/Reporter newspapers
Juanita High School basketball player Jaissa Nunn powers to the hoop for a basket during a loss to Liberty Thursday.
— image credit: Josh Suman/Reporter newspapers

Juanita held leads of 13 and 15 points during the first half of the 3A KingCo girls basketball third place game, but were undone by hot-shooting Liberty, losing to the Patriots 44-33 to finish fourth at the conference tournament.

Rebel head coach Sam W. Lee said a 22-2 third quarter was partly due to their opposition finding its range, and more a product of defensive lapses.

"We didn't play any defense at all," he said of a stretch during the second half that saw Liberty turn a 25-12 deficit into a 37-25 lead. "Today was one of those days, and I have no idea why."

Things couldn't have begun better for the top-seeded Rebels, which lost to Bellevue Tuesday after holding a fourth quarter lead. Freshman Shalexxus Aaron scored nine of her team-high 14 points in the first quarter, as Juanita surged to a 15-2 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Rebels still held an 11 point advantage at the half, before three straight three-pointers from Liberty signaled a turning of the tide early in the third. Four of those came from Patriots' senior Sierra Carlson, while junior Danielle Demps also found her rhythm en route to 10 points.

For Juanita, doubling its KingCo losses from the entire year in only three days was far from ideal, but should not stand in the way of a renewed effort at Saturday's Sea-King District Tournament, also at Bellevue College.

"We still have the confidence," he said. "We just have to do it."

For Juanita, the next thing to do will be continue its season against Holy Names at 7 p.m. Feb. 15 in Seattle in a loser-out game. Lee was not hesitant about what he hopes to see.

"32 minutes of basketball," he said, again emphasizing the need to finish games like they did during the regular season. "That's what it amounts to, intensity and playing defense."

A win on Saturday continues the Rebels' season against either Bishop Blanchet or Cleveland at Bellevue College Tuesday.

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